I have discovered over the years that when your family considers you to be a “great” cook and you actually love cooking–eating out becomes a pretty rare event. Your family and friends have a personal chef–YOU–and the eating out ends up being something “special” for you and not so much for the rest of the table! Especially if that table is waterside–lake, beach or pool! After all, when they want to good food prepared for them–they just tuck their legs under YOUR table, drape a napkin over their laps, bow their head for the Blessing and grab their forks and dig in! “Restaurant? What?! Why?!”
I’m just as bad after all these years! When we get ready to pay the tab–I can’t help but take the bottom line and run through my head what I could prepare and serve, how many more could be invited and/or whether I could simply do it better…for.the.same.or.less.money!
And, frankly, it’s getting less and less likely that I feel we got the experience that we paid for and/or that I couldn’t do it better for more people! (Love having a houseful–laughing, loving, eating and sharing and sampling wines, artisanal beers and the occasional libations!)
Table: “Southerly’s” Restaurant, Richmond, Virginia
“Southern Seasons” is a gourmet grocer out of the Carolinas and the Richmond store is only their third location. The store and restaurant, “Southerly,” opened 3 days ago and we–my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I–had lunch on Saturday or Day Three of their Grand Opening Celebration going on through September 1.
The Website mentions brunch–until 3 pm–but we were not offered a brunch menu and a quick look around the dining room did not note any tables enjoying any breakfast items.
Beer and Wine:
We had to ask for the beer and wine list but were pleasantly surprised by the selection once it was in hand–although a list of draught beers had to be provided via handwritten napkin. My daughter-in-law and I ordered glasses of the Big Fire Pinot Gris (R. Stuart & Co. Winery–McMinnville, Oregon) and my son ordered a glass of the Pocahoptas IPA (Center of the Universe Brewing Company–Ashland, VA). My husband–designated driver–ordered the sweet tea but was happy to note the 18 year old “The McCallan’s” scotch–his “go to” scotch–on the beverage list.
My daughter-in-law was slightly underwhelmed by the Big Fire Pinot Gris–finding it off dry and lacking in sophistication. But I did find it to be a delightfully refreshing white–crisp, dry with pear,apple and just the right hint of lemon and mineral spring finish. (Take the time to savor–whole palate! You won’t be sorry you did!) Please know that my daughter-in-law and I are not sweet wine fans–if you prefer a truly sweet wine then this is not for you!
My son is familiar with Pocahoptas (and the brewer) and offered a taste to his Momma–I am an IPA fan and found it to be a pretty great representative of the type. Great nose–complex, piney forest with a hint of grapefruit. Hoppy, hoppy up front, with a nutty, bitter chocolate and tobacco earthy mid and with that tang of citrus and bitters finish that piques the pallet of the IPA lover!
Offerings from the Menu:
The pimento cheese fritter appetizer is incredible–crispy outside with a melting, delicious center served in a sweet heat jelly that is “lick the plate clean” delicious. We should have ordered another because we ended up laughing and fighting over the last one! (Only 5 per order)!
My daughter-in-law ordered the Crispy Rockfish Tacos–pico de gallo, avocado crema, black bean and corn salad and really enjoyed them–with no sharing offered! My son ordered the N.C. Shrimp & Grits–hoop cheddar grits, andouille sausage, redeye shrimp jus–and we all scored a taste of the grits and sauce. The portion was disappointing closer to appetizer size (my son is not a big eater and even he commented on the relatively tiny portion) and the presentation was just tired–white, tannish with only the andouille sausage for any color. The redeye shrimp jus (broth) was overtly “smoky” and just over powered the sweet, creaminess of the grits and the three smallish shrimp swimming in a shallow bowl–leaving only the two slices of andouille sausage to power through it.
I had the VA Chicken “Bruschetta” sandwich–Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella, marinated tomatoes, and basil pesto on ciabatta. The ciabatta was stale–surprising considering the store has a bakery on-site–and the grilled chicken was tough and was dry and chewy in a suspiciously “cooked and then reheated on order” kind of way. I gave half of it to my son–fill in for the shrimp & grits–and I caught him lifting the bread to try to figure out how the chicken had been cooked. We agreed that the grill marks on the meat seemed to indicate it had been grilled…at some time or another. The texture was more like thin filleted chicken that had been fried–intensely. I had a cup of the Summer Squash Soup and found the texture smooth, creamy (immersion blender variety). However, the soup was flavorless–once my spoon failed to find any remnant of the piquillo pepper relish (yummy) spoonful in the center of the soup, I gave up any effort to finish it.
Southerly’s sweet potato fries were delicious albeit a little less than hot when they arrived with the sandwich orders.
My husband had their Artisanal Grilled Cheese–smoked gouda, Jim’s cheddar, housemade boursin on sourdough–and the Soup Du Jour–Tomato & Basil–and both were worth the drive from Petersburg to Richmond. The sandwich was buttery, crispy, gooey goodness–my husband is a sucker for smoked gouda anyway and the cheddar/boursin on sourdough combination is just comfort food genius. We couldn’t resist dipping the sandwich into that basil kissed tomato soup–and were all transported to rainy afternoon “bliss” level in a single bite! Every note delicious!
We had to ask for the dessert menu but couldn’t resist ordering once we took a look. I got the (last) Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée’ with a Blueberry Compote, my husband and son chose the Peach Crumble and my daughter-in-law indulged in the Banana Pudding Cheesecake.
My creme brûlée was okay but definitely elevated by the spoonful of blueberry compote to a solid “good.” Son and husband enjoyed the Peach Crumble–my bite of my husband’s had me wishing I had chosen that instead–deliciously warm, peachy and homey. My daughter-in-law’s Banana Pudding Cheesecake arrived at the table on a large oval plate with a huge chocolate smear that only served to emphasize the tiny rectangle of dessert (3″ X 1″ max) eviscerated by a vanilla wafer.
She offered me a taste this time and, frankly, this diner now understands the decision to offer only a tidbit of this cloyingly sweet and overly sweet banana pudding “bomb.” There is such an overt “explosion” of banana flavor that the kitchen simply must be marinating the ingredients in a banana liquer or banana flavoring. She loved it and I believe that those that love sweet desserts and bananas would be devotees as well–for me, it was simply too sweet and “in your face” banana to truly enjoy.
Food, Beer and Wine: 3.5 Moonstruck Moons
Emphasis on local, fresh and a celebration and respect for a regional palate is readily apparent in the menu and in the food. However, some items are worth a trip back in the very near future–the pimento cheese fritters, grilled cheese and tomato soup are real standouts for me–and some are simply not!
I look forward to exploring the wines offered at some point in the future but the selection appeared wide ranging and the “by the glass” offerings were numerous and relatively inexpensive. We were provided a handwritten list of the draught beers available on a napkin–so, while my son was able to find one that he liked and was familiar with it would be a great idea to add it to the beverage menu going forward.
My husband found 30-year “The McCallan” Scotch on the beverage menu–our “house” scotch and a real “find” in the local restaurant scene–and bringing a real cache’ and integrity to their overall selection of quality libations.
Interesting and ambitious choices that acknowledge the bliss that is southern homestyle food–“Southerly’s” is a jewel-in-the-making that is poised to complement the unbelievable gourmet retail grocer, “Southern Seasons,” that is it’s gateway.
Service and Ambience: 2.5 Moonstruck Moons
Bar service was excruciatingly slow, the kitchen was also on the slow side–probably overwhelmed by the whole grand opening crush–but our server was young, sincere and very eager to please! The decor is moderne euro bistro and offers dining al fresco as well. Based solely on the “meaning to please” demeanor of our very attentive server it is quite clear that management has high standards–they just need some time to get there!
Expense: 3 Moonstruck Moons (Expensive-ish)
Lunch for four with three libations & a sweet tea, one appetizer, two sandwiches, two entrees, four desserts, tax and a 20% tip was $154. On a scale of 1 (very inexpensive) to 5 (very expensive) Moonstruck Moons–I’d say it’s a solid “3.5 Moon” expense…making it a little pricey, in my opinion, for a lunch. However, if you forego alcohol and dessert–your check will shrink significantly.
Worth Leaving the Waterside for a Visit? 5 Moonstruck Moons (That’s a definite YES!)
We’ll be going back to check it out again–the retail mega-gourmet store, “Southern Seasons” is an all day destination event for avid cooks and will require a break (or two) in order to cover the huge retail store and touch, sample (wines, cheeses and pastries) and marvel over the entire phenomenal selection! Prices reflect rarity when necessary but are, overall, reasonable!
For hours of operation, department and selection information and menus please follow the link to their Website at: